A tiny prayer group, called Pittsford Pulse, was discussing The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, a classic of English Children’s literature first published in book form in 1911. The premise of the story is that three children restored a walled garden that had been neglected for many years, and personal healing occurred in the process.
The reason for the discussion had to do with, while this year A Frog House is focusing on sustainable gardening in Pittsford (Save the Dates), our own secret gardens, as a metaphor for our souls, need attending to. If we are to contribute to the effort to restore the soul of America locally, we need to focus on our own.
As humans, we tend to concern ourselves more with growing old than growing up, and at age 80 I have suddenly decided that I need to learn more about the latter. This led to a search for material from Pittsford photographs, a lifetime resident’s short personal history, and psychology (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and psychological signs of maturity),
Not surprisingly, Judeo-Christian scripture, which I also searched, as the texts from any major religion, provide the underpinnings of our so called new science. These are referenced separately.
Hopefully, as life starts to stir in the soil, already popping up snowdrops and crocus, readers will be inspired to join our underground movement, where all real life and accomplishment begin anyway.
Physiological Needs: Like plants, we need the basics of just enough food, air, and water.
The miracle of new life is celebrated in every service of every religion, and in families. Can we continue to celebrate new life by tending to it from that point on?
Prioritize others above yourself. Respect another’s point of view, beliefs, and way of life without judgment. Be willing to be wrong. Drop expectations of others, and focus on changing ourselves. Think before acting, act with good manners. Support others by finding joy in the success of someone else, being aware and considerate of them, and recognize their strengths. Do good deeds even when there is nothing in it for you other than knowing we helped, selflessly and joyfully making sacrifices.
Safety: Some plants, if they are to be wintered over, need to be brought inside.
Warmth and shelter for humans mean more than just a blanket and a roof, although those are essential. We absolutely have to negotiate the step of finding and providing safety from and to others, and above all, learning to feel safe in ourselves.
Unshaken by flattery or criticism. Take responsibility for our own mistakes and circumstances. Help ourselves, rather than out of a sense of entitlement, expecting others to do it for us. Listen more and talk less. Avoid trying to prove how intelligent we are, and avoid attention and drama. Not everything requires our opinion. Remain silent in front of fools, and ignore insane actions. Try to understand another person’s hurtful behavior rather than hurting back. Seek approval from ourselves instead of others.
Love and belonging: Whether plants grow better with music is still a controversial topic, but there are some studies that suggest this is so. All life has vibrations, and recordings of insects slowed down, as demonstrated in God’s Cricket Chorus, make beautiful music.
Humans are meant to harmonize. Hopefully in our earliest years, we know we are wanted and enjoyed by family and friends. This will help us form
Long term commitments. Seek and create what we want. Vision is more valuable than knowledge. Build a strong foundation. Rely on our own hard work, talents and good judgment. Take responsibility for our own health and happiness, Pass up instant gratification in favor of long term benefits. Stand up for fairness and justice for ourselves and others. Be satisfied with our accomplishments and ready for more Nothing is more important in this world than ourselves and our families, however defined.
Esteem: Imported and cultivar plants can crowd out native plants.
We need to treasure and include both homegrown folks and newcomers, old and young. A full, truthful and genuine appreciation of all of life, new and old, makes everything and everyone holy and happy, and every day is a sabbath
Humility. We don’t need to be perfect, but be calm and approachable, able to turn the other cheek without wishing harm on another, for our own peace. We can forgive and have compassion for ourselves and others, and be able to laugh at ourselves and with others.
Base decisions on character rather than on feelings.
Flexibility, learning when to let go and when to move on, combined with openness to change, helps us to accept the situation and move on. Recognition of that which does not work in our lives and doing something different facilitates our walking away from people and situations that threaten our peace of mind, self-respect, value, morals or self-worth.
Accepting, liking, and loving ourselves without needing someone else to “complete” us, helps us to do the right thing and have realistic optimism.
Self Actualization: Part 1 Think of the planted seed. Where does it come from? And where did that come from? You can’t grow an oak tree from a walnut.
If a young person shows an interest in a subject that, whatever it is, some wise adult encourages, that youth will be a much earlier bloomer. Late bloomers are valuable as well. The roadblocks along the way teach us skills and give us strength to use when the time is right to fulfill our purpose.
Seek wisdom before acting, Either route will lead to ego strengths that mediate between the recognized and tamed id and superego. This in turn brings peace, truthfulness, loving supportiveness and fulfillment. .
If we realize how much we don’t know, but that there is always room to grow and improve ourselves, we can reach out for help from trustworthy people and written resources. Mistakes become blessings, if we can learn from them. It helps to be open to everything, and attached to nothing
Self Actualization: Part 2 Think of the sapling. Less vulnerable than the seed, but more vulnerable than the oak, it still needs protection and support.
Joaquín Selva, Bc.S. in a Positive Psychology article, defines self-actualization generally “as the full realization of one’s creative, intellectual, and social potential through internal drive (versus external rewards like money, status, or power).” When we listening to our own inner souls and what our Creator wants for us at any given time, we will persevere and move forward .
Self Actualization: Part 3 Think of the mighty oak. Where does it come from? The acorn? And where did that come from? Stephen Hawking’s conclusion that there was nothing around before the origins of the universe is really no different than the description in Genesis 1:2, that “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.”
For all the years I have practiced psychiatry, I still can’t say that I have completely matured, fully developed emotional intelligence, or that I really understand the mystery of human behavior, let alone of life itself. Establishing A Frog House in Pittsford has helped me to further grow as I learn of pitfalls and behavior in politics, and is a wonderful source of adventure and fun.
Express gratitude continually.
To further allow the beautiful soul of Pittsford to shine forth, it would be good for all of us to practice the recommendation in Matthew 7:1, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”
Which brings us back to the external gardens of Pittsford. Be sure to learn about following Nature’s Plan while planning your gardens, and register for our webinar and hands on events, “Tiny Forest in a Nutshell: Planning” and “Tiny Forest in a Nutshell: Planting” on March 28 and May 23rd respectively, and both starting at 1:00 pm and hosted by Patty Love, Founder of Barefoot Permaculture.
If you would be so good to make the request, we would prefer crummy weather in March, and lovely weather in May. Mind you, forces greater than ourselves will be in charge, but it never hurts to ask.
Top and bottom photograph credits Margot Fass, the others courtesy of Rob Corby